This Week In Ford Racing October 18, 2005 NASCAR Busch Series Kenny Wallace, driver of the No. 22 AutoZone Taurus, is heading to his sponsor's hometown this weekend when the Busch Series travels to Memphis Motorsports Park this weekend for...
This Week In Ford Racing
October 18, 2005
NASCAR Busch Series
Kenny Wallace, driver of the No. 22 AutoZone Taurus, is heading to his sponsor's hometown this weekend when the Busch Series travels to Memphis Motorsports Park this weekend for the 32nd of 35 races this season. Wallace, who currently sits sixth in the driver point standings, discussed his team's recent performance and commented on the proposed testing schedule for next year and how it might impact younger drivers.
KENNY WALLACE-No. 22-AutoZone Ford Taurus
RATE YOUR TEAM'S RECENT ON-TRACK PERFORMANCE. "I really look over the last couple of months, and our team was really running well and we rattled off 11 top-10s and five top-fives, and things were going good. Then, the last two months, they've been brutal on us. We've had a lot of problems from loose lug nuts, alternators going out and wrecks, and I'm just looking at Memphis as something to gain us some momentum. Just when you think it can't get any worse, it has. Memphis is a good track for us to go to, and they're going to be a lot of expectations because it's the home of AutoZone. From that standpoint, I've been looking at every week as, 'OK, this week we're going to stop all of this bad stuff.' So, I'm looking at Memphis in that same manner - go down there and really have a good time."
WITH THE DOMINATION OF CUP DRIVERS IN THE BUSCH SERIES THE LAST EIGHT RACES, IS THIS WEEKEND A GOOD ONE TO TRY TO GET BACK ON TRACK? "Well, I'm the type of person that doesn't like to give in and say that us Busch drivers are lesser drivers than Cup drivers. I really feel that it's the Cup teams, and I keep telling everyone that it's not the drivers, it's the Cup teams. If those drivers were just with Busch teams, I think everything would be fine. It's their research and development, their constant testing and wind tunnel time; it's hard to compete with those types of teams. On the other hand, I always do look forward to the standalone events. They're a lot calmer, and I kind of enjoy the calmer-type races and weekends. You go down there and it's a two-day deal, and you're in and out of there, as to where with the big track you have a car count of nearly 60 cars and you have a lot more hoopla. So, going to Memphis without all of the Cup teams there is almost like a vacation."
NASCAR IS PROPOSING A MORE LIMITED TEST SCHEDULE NEXT YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON LIMITING TEST DATES? "I'm thrilled to death with it. I think what that does is it helps stop the bleeding for the guys like Greg Pollex, my car owner, and for teams like Brewco and Team Rensi. These are the teams that have nothing to do with Cup teams and these are true NASCAR Busch Series teams. The cutback in the testing is going to help a little bit, but still, the Cup teams are going to have more information because they have four and five teams and they're still going to have more information than the standalone teams. For the most part, and if it was up to me, I would cancel out all testing because when it comes down to it, we all show up and race anyway. Ninety percent of the race tracks, we show up and race at, and it's the other 10 percent that we test at. I think that's the only way to get control of this sport financially and make things a little bit better where money doesn't buy you speed. Even though it is a free enterprise, I think they should just outlaw testing. I don't know why you need testing anyway. The only reason you test is to get up on the other competitor. Well, if nobody can get up on each other then it's all the same."
THE TOP FIVE DRIVERS IN THE POINT STANDINGS HAVE AN AVERAGE AGE OF 24 YEARS OLD. WILL NEW TESTING LIMITS PUT A PREMIUM ON EXPERIENCE NEXT YEAR? "I'm a driver, and I still say that it has nothing to do with the drivers. It has to do with the teams. If you look at the points right now, you're looking at DEI, Richard Childress Racing, Ganassi and Roush. We're the team that carries the banner real proudly for independent teams. Fortunately, we're the first NASCAR Busch Series team in the points. I think a lot of people overlook the fact that all of the guys that we're racing in front of us are major, major teams. It's not like they're by themselves in this sport. That's the way I look at it. The only other conclusion I can draw to people is that you don't see my brother Rusty come down and dominate, and everybody knows he's a good driver. The reason my brother Rusty doesn't dominate in his Busch Series car is because he doesn't have a real affiliation with Penske Racing, and Ryan Newman's effort is totally separate of Rusty's, and Ryan is doing a lot better job at it right now. Ryan's got a lot more engineering, and Ryan's Busch team is a lot better than Rusty's just because it has better people. To me, it's about the team and it's not about the drivers."
WILL IT KEEP THE YOUNGER CROP OF DRIVERS BEING BROUGHT INTO THE SPORT IN THE LOWER DIVISIONS LONGER? "The only way I can answer that is when I totally see the rules. I'm totally convinced that they're going to go, 'OK, everybody has three times to test,' and then they'll give rookies six tests. It should take a rookie longer to get to the big time because it took me a lot longer. Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte, it took longer to get there because there wasn't as much money back then. What's happening now, all of the big teams are spending $5 million on grooming drivers. You go to Ganassi, and they've probably put $5 million into Casey Mears and they probably spent $10 million on the development of David Stremme. The bigger teams with the bigger budgets and the better research and development, they're going ahead and they're spending the $5-10 million to hurry up these younger drivers, where in the past it took longer because you didn't spend money on a driver running some ARCA races, a handful of Busch races and a few Cup races. If the rules state the everybody only gets three tests, then, yes, it's definitely going to take the rookies maybe one more year in the Busch Series, and they won't be rushed up to the Cup level."